‘American Idol’ season 20 top 11 recap

Leah Marlene on "American Idol" during the top 11 that aired Monday, April 25, 2022. (ABC/Eric McCandless)

Credit: ABC

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Leah Marlene on "American Idol" during the top 11 that aired Monday, April 25, 2022. (ABC/Eric McCandless)

Credit: ABC

Tristen Grissett, the sole rocker left on “American Idol,” was cut Monday night, just missing the top 10 during a live vote.

He definitely knew his way around the stage but his voice lacked a certain depth no matter what he sang. His frenzied take on the Rolling Stones “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” was his departure song.

ABC is pumping out a lot more “Idol” this year now that they don’t have anything else to air on Monday nights. Five hours last week, four more hours this week.

The theme Monday night was also new: each contestant had a choice of three songs. The songs were each selected by one of the judges but the singer had no idea which one. The show kept a tally on which judge’s songs was getting chosen. While Luke Bryan was ahead most of the night and kept reveling in it, Katy Perry made a late comeback and they both ended up with four songs while Lionel Richie’s pick was chosen three times.

Katy and Luke had to choose between the two bottom voters: Lady K and Tristan. They ended up saving Lady K.

Overall, it wasn’t a solid night of performances. Jay Copeland rose to the occasion by going vulnerable while both Fritz Hager and Leah Marlene showed why they could very well be finalists in the coming weeks.

Nicolina Bozzo (”Since U Been Gone” Kelly Clarkson) - She didn’t choose “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion or “Someone Like You” by Adele and opted for a rocker that she related more to. This is clearly out of her comfort zone but she does have fun with it and it was undeniably entertaining. She thought Katy picked it but it was actually Lionel’s song choice. Lionel wants fire from her and feels she lit up the room. Katy says she put her spin on it. Grade: B-plus/A-minus

Mike Parker (”Chasin’ You” Morgan Wallen) - He didn’t pick “Time Likes This” by Darius Rucker and “I Swear” by John Michael Montgomery, opting for the song he knew best. He hits some bad notes but he is very comfortable on stage and emotes quite well. He thinks it’s Luke’s song and Mike was right. Luke likes the choices he made, especially the falsetto at the end. Lionel says he made it his song. Grade: B-plus/A-minus

Fritz Hager (”Wonderwall” Oasis) - He didn’t pick the Beach Boys song “God Only Knows” or Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect,” going for this 1990s classic. The more I watch him, the more I can see him winning the entire competition. He arranges this song in a compelling way, adding more sadness and edge than Liam Gallagher mustered in the original. Fritz says he really thinks Katy picked this but it was actually Luke. Luke says he started jamming the song a couple weeks ago and thought it would be a good Fritz song. Lionel calls it perfect, a term he’ll use again later because he’s clearly running out of adjectives. Katy says he flipped the song on its head and calls it brilliant. Grade: A/A-minus

Christian Guardino (”I’m Not the Only One” Sam Smith) - He first considered Steve Wonder’s “For Once In My Life” but wasn’t feeling it so he opted for Sam Smith. (He also skipped over Bruno Mars’ “Talking to the Moon”). He really feels this one and offers a truly spirited, powerful performance. Christian guesses it’s Luke but it’s Katy’s song. Katy thought that song fit him well and he pulled it off. Luke says he needs to trust himself more because he’s great.. Lionel says he turned it into his song. Grade: A-minus

Noah Thompson (”Heartbreak Warfare” John Mayer) - Two judges chose Mayer songs. His other option was “Bigger Than My Body.” The third was “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver. He was not familiar with either Mayer song. He first tried the Denver song but didn’t feel it worked best vocally for him. So he jumped over to one of the unknowns. He connected with “Heartbreak Warfare” and does an admirably decent job with it vocally. He guesses Katy chose it but she used to date John, so no. “Wikipedia me,” she suggests in mock shock. Luke chose this one, too. He says he likes how Noah challenged himself. Lionel says he was in full control. Katy says her own Denver song was too obvious in comparison. Grade: B-plus/A-minus

Lady K (”traitor” Olivia Rodrigo)- The only one of the three songs she knew was “Jesus, Take the Wheel” but she decided that was too safe. So she chose “traitor” over “Smile” by Nat King Cole, which she was not familiar with either. Her high notes sound a wee bit weak but but she took a chance and it largely paid off. She knows for sure Katy chose it but she is wrong. Lionel chose it. Lionel says it was out of the box and she did a great job. Katy says she was in her “feels.” Luke says she’s doing a good job given how little time she had to prepare that. Grade: B-plus

HunterGirl (”9 to 5″ Dolly Parton ) - The judges also chose “Here You Come Again” by Dolly and “Wide Open Spaces” by the Chicks but she goes for this crowd pleaser. She busts out the fun and it’s pure delight. She guesses Lionel but didn’t call it. It’s a Luke choice. Katy says she embodied Dolly. Grade: A-minus

Leah Marlene (”Make You Feel My Love” Bob Dylan) - She picked this over two songs Sheryl Crow has recorded: “First Cut Is the Deepest” and “Steve McQueen.” She changes the arrangement up to her own liking and again, knocks it out of the park. She draws you in and makes you want more. Leah thinks Katy chose this song and gets it right. Katy says it was a big canvas and she was like Alison Krauss on stage. Luke was thinking she evoked Emmylou Harris, too. Lionel says she was truly the artist tonight. Grade: A-minus/A

Tristen Grissett (”You Can’t Always Get What You Want” Rolling Stones) - He first tried “I Want It All” by Queen but then switched to the Stones. (He also skipped over “Paint it Black.”) Again, his high energy stage work exceeds his vocal skills but the song works perfectly for him. He felt like it was a Lionel selection and he is right. Lionel says he is a showstopper. Katy says he is electricity in a bottle. Grade: B-plus/A-minus

Emyerson Flora (”lovely” Billie Eilish) - She could have chosen “True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper or “Starting Over” by Chris Stapleton. She briefly pondered “True Colors” but given the vocal comparisons to Billie Eilish, she opted for Billie. She brings plenty of heart and sadness to this that feels both old school and modern at the same time. Emeryson believes this is a Katy pick and she is right. Katy says she has a bit of Billie in her but so what? Luke says she’s a pro at such a young age. Lionel says that was a perfect performance, repeating a line he said about Fritz an hour earlier. Grade: A/A-minus

Jay Copeland (”Lilac Wine” Jeff Buckley) - He already sang Jackson 5 so “I’ll Be There” was out and he clearly wasn’t into “Caught Up” by Usher. He opted for the more vulnerable ballad instead. And it works. He brings some real vocal magic for the first time. This is easily his best performance to date. He knew for sure it was Katy and he is right. Katy likes how controlled it was and showed off his artistry. Luke says he is Nat King Cole reborn. Grade: A

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